Posted by: Jim E | January 6, 2010

Long Ago and Far Away…

Every January, I stop and think about something that happened long ago and far away, that changed my world…and others as well…

Let me take you back to January 8, 1956…late in the afternoon on that day in the Ecuador jungle…the waters of the Curaray River flowed over the bodies of 5 missionaries…killed by those they came to win for Christ…

And back in Minneapolis, Minnesota…an 8th grade boy of 14, heard the news…and later read the story and saw the pictures in LIFE magazine…the search party that went to find the missionaries, recovered the bodies and a few of their personal belongings…and buried them along the shore of the river in a mass grave…as a boy I was moved, as the world was moved by that story…

And every January I am reminded of that event that so moved and changed me forever…it brings back all kinds of memories…here were men, not a lot older than I was…that gave their lives for the cause of Christ…I had come to Christ just 3 years before and the Lord gave me an understanding of what this was all about…but I didn’t really understand fully what this would mean for me…though I saw it in the lives of these missionaries and their wives…

Just a year later, because I was in Boy Scouts, I decided to take a summer job as a counselor at Many Point Scout Camp near Detroit Lakes, MN…near the headwaters of the Mississippi River…before I left someone gave me the book “Through Gates of Splendor” by Elisabeth Elliot, to read that summer…

During the summer I picked up the book on my day off and began to read…I would go out into the woods along old logging trails and into wooded areas too beautiful for words to describe…I walked through the pines, the grass underneath the trees was so thick that it was like a carpet…a great place to sit down and read…but I decided to go a little further…and it broke open into an area I thought at first was a clearing…I climbed a steep bank…and then noticed it was a huge beaver dam…

And on that quiet dam, watching beavers at work, and swim and dive…God did a work in me…I was now 15…and the Lord compassionately and lovingly approached me…and asked me to give myself completely to Him…as Jim Elliot and his friends had done…that book and that summer on the beaver dam changed the course of my life…

And from the book “Shadow of the Almighty”…Jim Elliot said, “I walked out to the hill just now. It is exalting, delicious, to stand embraced by the shadows of a friendly tree with the wind tugging at your coattail and the heavens hailing your heart, to gaze and glory and give oneself again to God…what more could a man ask? Oh, the fullness, pleasure, sheer excitement of knowing God on earth!”…

He continued, “O Jesus, Master and Center and End of all, how long before that Glory is thine which has so long waited Thee? Now there is no thought of Thee among men; then there shall be thought for nothing else. Now other men are praised; then none shall care for any other’s merits. Hasten, hasten, Glory of Heaven take Thy crown, subdue Thy kingdom, enthrall Thy creatures.”

That is the dedication that moved me…that melted my heart…so many years ago…and on that beaver dam in the untracked northern woods…the same God that touched Jim Elliot’s heart…touched mine…and has made all the difference in those over 50 years that have passed…

So you see why January is an important memory…and this memory also makes me wonder what will open up a new generation to a God Who has not changed…He is all the glory that Jim Elliot talked about…that I too have experienced…

It may have been “Long Ago and Far Away” but in truth, it’s with me right now…

“When it comes time to die, make sure that all you have to do is die.” Jim Elliot…


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